Oscars Week: The Banshees of Inisherin

This article is part three of . . .

The Front Page: Oscars Week

The third film for our Oscars week is The Banshees of Inisherin, the only live-action film I will be reviewing this week. Best Animated Feature nominees deserve attention, but that doesn’t mean that the ones up for Best Picture don’t! Read below for a review of one of the most-nominated films of the ceremony: Inisherin is currently nominated for a whopping 9 Oscars!


Some of you reading this may be wondering: what the hell is a banshee? In traditional Irish folklore, a banshee is a female spirit that typically brings the news of the death of a family member.

The film’s theatrical poster, showing Pádraic (left, played by Colin Farrell) and Colm (right, played by Brendan Gleeson) facing away from each other in a not-so-subtle representation of separation.

So, then let’s address the other elephant in the room: Inisherin. The fictitious setting of the film, Inisherin is a remote island off of the coast of Ireland, where two lifelong friends are currently residing.

These lifelong friends go to the pub every day and socialize with one another amidst the Irish Civil War of the 1920’s. One day, one of these friends, aspiring musician Colm (played by Brendan Gleeson), decides to just cut off the friendship. Pádraic, played by Colin Farrell and the friend who is being cut off, is left utterly baffled by this sudden event, and seeks to find out what happened and to try to restore their friendship, which has alarming consequences for the both of them.

The film actually starts off quite funny: the mystery of the friendship ending is perhaps the most funny part of it all. It seems utterly ridiculous, and the dialogue perfectly hits the comedic nail on the head, especially with the use of the Hiberno-English dialect. Barry Keoghan, is also hilarious as the womanizing and crass Dominic, a friend of Pádraic, and Kerry Condon is wonderful and similarly funny as Siobhán, Pádraic’s sister who lives with him.

As a tragicomedy, however, there comes a point where the film must start focusing on the tragic parts of the story. When the reason is revealed for the relationship ending, it begins to sink into dramatics and moves away from comedy. This is especially so when Colm becomes so bothered by Pádraic that he threatens to cut off a finger every time Pádraic bothers him.

I won’t get into the plot much more than that, and I’m sure you can guess part of what happens from my description of it. Let’s begin on the other aspects of the film, and firstly with Farrell and Gleeson. Their performances are fantastic, and certainly deserving for the nominations for their respective categories this year. Farrell, especially, shows off desperation, insecurity and niceness all within one package and in a way that never ever comes off as overdoing it.

The cinematography is genuinely astonishing; it shows off the beauty of Inisherin extremely well, and there are some very impressive shots where the light reflects off of the subjects in the camera, giving them an almost heavenly glow, and the lighting definitely helps in this regard. Aside from those shots, the lighting feels completely natural and yet creates the perfect atmosphere for the situations these characters undergo.

The pacing and editing of the film is also good; it is never boring as a result of the editing at work, even for a phone-addicted reviewer like me. The comedic aspects of the film definitely help in this regard for sure. For those who are interested in Ireland, they will similarly find interest in the accents and the setting of the film. The film also initially moves with a more laid back attitude, even when things do occasionally get serious, which allows the viewer to comfortably integrate into the film.

However, when things do get serious, they become a bit too serious. Martin McDonagh, the writer and director of this film, tries to connect every plot point to some sort of symbol or motif. This is even connected to the music, and it is a rude awakening for those expecting a comedy with some dramatic elements and who were adjusted to the initial pace.

Pádraic and Colm in a confrontation.

The connections are so unsubtle that they can be hardly appreciated on an emotional basis. They bring a certain subject up (like the aforementioned Irish Civil War) and harken back to it while hardly exploring how it affects the characters of Inisherin until it is brought up again. The titular banshees are a prime example of how exceptionally obnoxious these symbols are.

It, unfortunately, makes for a disappointing third act, but viewers who do not mind or who love these kinds of metaphorical stories will find zero problems with the content at hand. It does have a large number of symbols to grasp onto.

My only other major criticism of the film is the score: it tries a bit too hard to seem melodramatic, or it sounds like something right out of a murder mystery game you would have played on your Windows computer two decades ago.

Overall, fans of Martin McDonagh, metaphorical stories or Ireland (or all of this) would enjoy this film quite a bit. If you’re expecting a comedy, lower your expectations before watching this for sure. On the sheer strength of the performances of the four main actors, the comedy and most of the technical aspects, I can’t help but recommend this film anyway! My final rating is a 7 out of 10.

Dominic (played by Barry Keoghan) looks back on Pádraic in a prime example of the film’s stunning cinematography.

The Banshees of Inisherin stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan. The film is available to stream on HBO Max, and is available to purchase on home media. It is also still playing in some movie theaters. This film is rated R.

This film is nominated for 9 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director (McDonagh), Best Actor (Farrell), two times for Best Supporting Actor (Gleeson and Keoghan), Best Supporting Actress (Condon), Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score.

This article is part three of . . .

The Front Page: Oscars Week

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